Week 1 of the NFL has a knack for shattering expectations and throwing a wrench into the status quo. We’ve gotten so used to the shake-ups from the first Sunday, that Overreaction Monday is practically an NFL holiday at this point. This year, however, we were surprised by the lack of surprises out of the first week of football.
The “same old, same old” should be music to the ears of Patriots fans. Not only have they dominated their division for the past 13 years, but they’ve earned six straight first-round byes with records no worse than 12-4. On Sunday night, they traveled to face the Cardinals without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and looked poised for a little shake-up (called losing). Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo led the Pats to one of their more impressive regular season wins in a few years. It took a missed field goal by Arizona late in the game, but New England nonetheless survived, and that’s a story the AFC East is all too used to hearing. After the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills lost their season openers, the Pats are alone on top and that’s nothing new.
The same old story is a painful one for the Cleveland Browns and RGIII. Against a rookie QB and an uninspiring Philadelphia Eagles team, the Browns had reason to be optimistic. Instead, Cleveland relived the disappointment of the past two decades with an abysmal loss. Even worse, Griffin will miss an extended period of time after sustaining an injury. He took a huge hit near the sideline after he failed to slide. Sound at all familiar? Week 1 did nothing to quell the fears of a long season for Browns fans.
Cleveland wasn’t the only team to be dealt a familiar dose of disappointment. The San Diego Chargers were a different team last year after Keenan Allen sustained a lacerated kidney in Week 8. This year they’ll find out what it’s like to miss him for an entire season after Allen tore his ACL in Week 1.
Both the Saints and Colts showed eerily similar signs of the struggles they faced last year. A poor defense costing an elite QB the win is the losing formula we saw time and time again for the past few years.
Perhaps one Week 1 surprise was the Giants topping the Cowboys in a season opener. As shocking as that was, the real story was the Cowboys’ inability to overcome the missing veteran leadership and play of Tony Romo. Will Dallas be able to string together any wins without him? Even in the loss, Dak Prescott showed he’s a vast improvement over the replacements Dallas trotted out last year.
And how can we forget about the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Week after week we (myself included) refused to take this team seriously in 2015. They had a struggling Peyton Manning as their QB trying to see how far he could get on the back of a fantastic defense. This time, it was untested rookie Trevor Siemian with the great defense behind him against a Panthers team itching for revenge. I fell for it again and picked the Panthers. Then I watched as Denver’s defense thoroughly dominated and allowed Siemian to control the game with smart, safe passes. Why should I have expected anything different?
Week 1 looked awfully familiar and that makes me uneasy. Should we get ready for a repeat of 2015? Or is the NFL just setting us up to look like fools halfway through the season?